Stage director, actor Jack Sydow dies at 88

Earned Tony nom for 1966 revival of 'Anne Get Your Gun'

Jack Sydow, a Tony Award-nominated director, actor, playwright and professor at the University of Washington, died May 28 in Los Angeles. He was 88.

Sydow directed the 1966 revival of the musical "Annie Get Your Gun" on Broadway that starred Ethel Merman and featured new music by Irving Berlin. He was nominated for a Tony for best director in a field that included Gower Champion, Mike Nichols and eventual winner Harold Prince.

A native of Rockford, Ill., Sydow in 1943 collaborated with other servicemen to create "Hump Happy," a satirical musical review that featured him as one of three cross-dressing Andrews Sisters. The show toured military bases in India and the Middle East during World War II.

In 1958, Sydow and Boris Tumarin shared an Obie Award for the theatrical adaptation of "The Brothers Karamazov." That year, he began work on the pre-Broadway production of "Once Upon a Mattress" in Tamiment, Pa., where Sydow also commissioned new work from a young Woody Allen and began a lifelong friendship with composer Billy Goldenberg.

Sydow was assistant director to George Abbott in 1959 for Abbott's Broadway production of "Once Upon a Mattress" starring Carol Burnett. The next summer, after the closing of the Broadway run, Sydow directed the national tour that featured Buster Keaton and his wife, Eleanor.

Sydow directed works produced by Frances Ann Dougherty for the American & National Repertory Theatres and helmed many major tours from 1961-68. Productions included "Mary Stuart," "Elizabeth the Queen," "Ring Round the Moon" and "The Crucible" with casts that included Tallulah Bankhead, Eva Le Gallienne, Pat Carroll, Farley Granger and Denholm Elliott.

Sydow's production of "John Brown's Body" for the National Repertory Theatre reopened the Ford's Theatre in Washington in 1968.

In 1970, Sydow arrived in Seattle to head the directing program at Washington. He directed and taught many who went on to careers as actors and directors, including Jean Smart, Harry Groener, Pamela Reed, Richard Carne, Daryl Anderson, Richard E.T. White and Linda Hartzell.

After retiring as professor emeritus and relocating to Los Angeles in 1986, Sydow returned to acting and had guest-starring roles in such TV shows as "Frasier" and "Touched by an Angel." He appeared regularly at the South Coast Repertory Theater and found work in commercials.

Survivors include his nephew, London-based theatrical producer Karl Sydow, and his family, and several other nieces, nephews, great nieces and great nephews. Donations may be made in his name to the Actors Fund.